ELDERS IN THE CHURCH
With the news Dwayne gave us recently about moving to Florida, many have been concerned about the direction of the church and what we will do without an eldership. Since the merger of Liberty Hill and Clarkdale in the 90s, we have had an eldership, and have strived to follow the Lord’s will in regards to having qualified, faithful men to serve as elders.
We know from Scripture that God wants qualified men to lead the church. Paul told Titus in Titus 1:5-9 “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
From the above we see that Titus was charged with putting things in order and appointing elders in every town. Paul gives the qualifications not only in Titus, but also to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 (not only the qualifications of elders, but deacons as well).
The strength of a church is dependent on the members of the church and their spiritual health, as well as the leadership of the church. When the church is working for the Lord, and everyone has the same goals and desire to see the church grow, then the church will be blessed by God with growth.
With covid and the shutdown of churches, did we have enough faith in God or faith in ourselves and in man? Faith, not fear.
As elders here at South Cobb, we have made some mistakes in our leadership and how we handle things. I ask for your forgiveness, and the forgiveness God offers as well. Elders make decisions that they think are best, but some brothers and sisters have disagreed and gone somewhere else. IT BREAKS OUR HEARTS, but we have to live with it.
Now we are facing a church without elders. Is this God’s will? NO!
What will be our reaction?
Brothers, we need to ask ourselves – have we grown in the grace and knowledge of Christ to the point that we are qualified to serve as elders or deacons? Have we believed that the church will always have elders and deacons? Did we even consider that we may be in the position that we are in now? Have we men grown in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ where we can GLADLY serve as elders or deacons? Is it God’s will that His church function without leadership?
I know the responsibilities.
I know the heartache and pain when we lose one member of the church. I consider (my) faults and wonder if it was because of failings on my part.
As we begin to look for men that can and will step up and serve, I pray that all of us will be honest with our own lives. Have we ALL grown in the grace and knowledge of Christ? Is spiritual growth evident in our lives, and thus, in the church? Are our ladies growing more than we men (who should and must be the leaders as per the above?)
Do we have men qualified according to Timothy and Titus?
While Paul told Timothy and Titus to appoint elders in every church, we ask, should the preacher, or the congregation, SELECT the men to serve? They are to appoint, but select? No. I am convinced that it is the congregation that knows the men, and will follow those whom they trust.
My prayer for South Cobb is the following:
A. That all men in this congregation look at themselves and ask, do I qualify to be an elder or a deacon? Do I meet the qualifications as stated in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1? Have we as men grown in the grace and knowledge of Christ?
B. Am I willing to serve the Lord in this capacity?
C. Do I realize that being an elder means that I must, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
D. Do I realize that an elder needs to, “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” (See 1 Peter 5:1-5).
E. That, as a church, we choose men who are qualified. We must encourage all of the men to spiritual growth so that they can serve the Lord. This needs to be constant encouragement.
Brothers and sisters, it is not the job of the preacher to choose the elders or deacons – it is the church’s job. You can look at certain men that fit the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and ask them if they would be willing to serve. Timothy and Titus were told to appoint the elders, not choose them. (The preacher can look and see if there are men qualified just as every other member).
Finally, this emphasizes that, if we will continue to grow and prosper here at South Cobb, we MUST, AS MEN, live up to the demands of being Christian men, and being examples to our families and to the flock of God.
PRAY FOR US BRETHREN.